Sunday 18 February 2018

Medical cards 'are still being removed'

Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen. Picture: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen. Picture: Tom Burke

Eoghan MacConnell

A FIANNA Fail TD has claimed the Government has continued to remove discretionary medical cards despite announcing a suspension of reviews on May 29.

Deputy Barry Cowen says he is still dealing with people who are having their cards removed despite a Government promise to stop the review.

He specifically cited the case of an elderly nursing home resident and his wife – a kidney transplant recipient – who discovered their discretionary medical cards would not be returned last Friday week.

Mr Cowen, inset, admitted the man had an ESB pension and "their means would have been over the limit" but he insisted the cards had been approved on discretionary grounds a year earlier.

The 72-year-old Alzheimer's patient and full-time nursing home resident and his 71-year-old wife, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, had their discretionary medical cards approved in June 2013.

Their son, who asked to remain anonymous, said "they were issued in June 2013 and they were valid until 2017".

His father was on his second discretionary medical card and it was the first time his mother had received one, he explained.

The couple were asked to reapply for their cards in mid-May but only got GP visit cards in return less than two weeks ago.

"Now they are saying it is going under means and they are not getting it because their means are too high," the son said, adding that the experience had been very stressful for his mother.

Mr Cowen claimed the Government had been "disingenuous" in its dealing with the medical card review and assurances on the Free Travel Scheme review had not eased fears among the elderly.

The HSE said it "has suspended reviews of medical cards that are held on a discretionary basis".

Irish Independent

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